Enterovirus D68: How Mother’s Intuition (and Medical Doctors) Saved My Son’s Life.

As parents gear up to send their kids back to school, I find it important to share this story. The absolute scariest time of my life (and there have been a lot of scary times).

I remember it like it was yesterday. Tuesday, September 2, 2014. My son, Caleb, was completely healthy. He was a very busy 3 year-old. We had gone to the park with his friend: they were laughing, climbing, and playing.


Caleb had only been to the doctor, aside from his routine check-ups, 1x and it was for eczema when he was 14 weeks old. He has always been very independent. At 12 weeks old, he started sleeping through the night. He didn’t like to sleep near us. He liked HIS room, HIS bed, and HE chose his bedtime of 7:00pm.

On Wednesday, September 3, 2014, Caleb started his first day of preschool. He was very excited! However, when he got home from school, at 2pm, he had a cough. I didn’t think much about it at first because he was still acting like himself. Then he just kept getting worse. By the time his dad got home, around 6:30pm he was ready for bed, so we put him in our bed to be near him, and he was okay with that. At first, we thought he might have bronchitis. We decided I would take him in first thing in the morning if he wasn’t feeling any better.



I kept a close eye on him. As I lay with him, I started googling his symptoms. I was reading through pages and pages of articles, and I came upon this small news article from Kansas City, on the 3rd page of results, talking about something called Enterovirus D68. I believed Caleb was showing similar symptoms: coughing a lot then later a wheezing sound started. Caleb has what is called Pectus Excavatum, and his chest normally dips really far in, but I was noticing his chest pull in deeper. At 11pm, I called ask a nurse through our insurance because I was starting to feel uneasy, and my mom gut was telling me this was serious. On the phone with the nurse, she had me count his breaths. She told me I should call the On Call Doctor at our Clinic, and if the doctor didn’t return our call within 4 hours to call her back. I DID NOT LIKE THIS ANSWER.

I called the On Call Doctor and left a message. I then decided to call Amplatz Children’s Hospital (now named University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital) because I believed I needed to go to the Emergency Room.  I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overreacting before I took him in. I told the nurse the Insurance Ask-a-Nurse had me count his breaths, he was at 61 breaths per minute. The nurse calmly told me, “ma’am, I don’t want you to freak out, but you need to hang up the phone and dial 911. Your child’s breaths are double the maximum they should be for a resting heart rate.”

My son was awake and I told him we were going to the hospital. He agreed to go but only if I allowed him to get dressed and not wear his pajamas. I decided to drive him since we were close to the hospital, and it was late so there would be no traffic. My husband called the hospital to tell them we were coming in. I pulled up and my son wanted to walk in, not be carried. At this point, I thought maybe he was having an asthma attack (my husband and his sister are both asthmatic). I thought we’d get a nebulizer and go home.


They brought us into a room and started getting all of his stats. They immediately hooked him up to a nebulizer. The nurses told me how good it was that I trusted my gut and didn’t listen to the Insurance Ask-a-Nurse. I was told he would’ve been dead if we had waited 4 hours. I mentioned how I read this article on Enterovirus D68 from Kansas City. They had no idea what I was talking about and I think brushed it off due to me being another mom playing Dr. WebMD. THEN…. At 3am… the nurses came in and told me, “WE ARE MOVING YOU TO THE ICU.” I was not prepared for this. I thought after his series of nebulizers we would go home. My husband was at home with our 1 year old daughter. I thought we’d be home before my husband would go to work in the morning. I left my husband a voicemail and texted him telling him we were being transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit.

I called my dad, a nurse who at the time worked overnights. He started asking me what all of Caleb’s numbers were. I remember him asking what the blood oxygen level was. The nurse told me 76 (I now know how to check all of these numbers). My dad told me if it got any lower to call him and he’d be on a plane. At that point, I didn’t know you want a blood oxygen level of 97-100% saturation, and anything below 90% is considered low. I texted my sisters and my in-laws; I called my mom, she had the stomach flu. My mother-in-law sent me a text, “I can be there in 8 hours, do you want me to come?” I took a deep breath, started to cry, and responded that we needed her there. She told my husband and me that she’d leave immediately. She had 500 mile drive ahead of her.  My sister, her sister-in-law, and my son’s godfather took shifts watching our daughter that day so my husband could be at the hospital with Caleb and me.



Doctors and nurses entered our room in the pediatric intensive care unit in hazmat suits. NO ONE knew what Caleb had, but he was very sick. He was hooked up to so many cords. I mentioned a few other times to the doctors about the Enterovirus D68. Again, they disregarded my Dr. Google status. Caleb’s blood work came back. Negative for everything, but he tested positive for rhinovirus, the common cold. THAT’S IT! My 3 year old was on 8L of oxygen due to the common cold.


For 36 hours, Caleb was on 8L of oxygen. As he started showing progress, they started to lower the oxygen. I posted on Facebook how Caleb had been sick. I started getting tons of private messages about Enterovirus D68 because it had hit mainstream news, the same thing I had been telling the doctors about the entire time, including the Pulmonologist who saw Caleb in the PICU. Caleb was eventually transferred to a regular hospital room and off of oxygen. Saturday, September 6, we were discharged from the hospital. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved in my life. When we left the hospital, Enterovirus D68 was the number 1 article on CNN. At least 4 children died of Enterovirus D68, more than Ebola… the disease most of the country was freaking out about.  On September 9, 2014, I had a message from Caleb’s pediatrician (she had also personally called me while we were in the PICU). In the message she quoted the pulmonologist saying, “I don’t think we are currently checking for Enterovirus D68, but I wonder if we might start.”



2 months after Caleb was in the hospital, I was at the doctor with my daughter for pink eye. Their pediatrician told me the doctors had decided to recheck Caleb’s blood work and it was INDEED Enterovirus D68. Apparently Rhinovirus and Enterovirus D68 looked similar under the microscope. Caleb was apparently one of the first cases (if not the first case) of Enterovirus D68 in Minnesota, and that is why no one knew what it was. Since Caleb was so sick at the hospital, they diagnosed him with asthma. We proceeded to meet with the pulmonologist, we saw in the PICU, for over a year. We also had him see an asthma/allergy specialist. His allergy panel came back with him having MANY environmental allergies. It was determined by his allergist/pulmonologist/pediatrician he had experienced the perfect trifecta… Ragweed season + asthma + Enterovirus D68 = PICU.

My son is now in 2nd grade. He has allergy and viral induced cough variant asthma. He takes daily allergy medication. We carry a rescue inhaler and spacer with us. We have a nebulizer and prescribed meds to help keep him out of the hospital. So far, he hasn’t had another hospital stay and we hope to keep it that way.


I will leave you with this: MOM GUT IS REAL. Trust your instincts!

Psychic Revelations: My first Trip to Baltimore OR WAS IT?? (Part 2 of 2)

I have always had very vivid dreams. I was 10 when I started having dreams of my deceased family members. In the dreams, I felt like my loved ones were visiting me, long after they had died. I truly felt they were with me. It wasn’t until I met my sister-in-law,  I really opened up about my dreams because I learned from her to watch for signs. I had one free tarot reading done, 7 years ago, in which everything came true. I was gifted a  medium reading on the phone, about 4 years ago. However, my Baltimore experience had been vastly different, and I felt the need for answers. I decided I would pay for a reading. So I walked into a shop, a shop which was actually the store front of this woman’s home. I weirdly felt more comfortable seeing her kidsIMG_0058 because before my father-in-law passed, we talked to him and to my kids… to watch for signs.

After chatting with the Psychic for a few minutes, and her offering us a cheaper deal; I love deals. My sister and I agreed we would both do a tarot card reading. I wanted to go first. I am a pretty timid person, so when I decide to do something I jump right in so I don’t back out.  I sat down with Mrs. Kay and the following unfolded. Mrs. Kay asked me if I had recently lost someone close to me. I had. My father-in-law passed away a few months before this reading. She asked how long I’d lived in Baltimore. I told her I was only visiting and it was my first time there. She proceeded to tell me she didn’t believe this was my first time there and asked if anything seemed familiar. I answered yes, but I used my poker face because I didn’t want to let on what had happened to me only a few hours earlier. She then told me I had an old soul. That she could see I had lived 7 lives since the 1700s. “No wonder I’m so tired all the time, I thought to myself. My soul has been busy.”

Mrs. Kay had me shuffle cards and chose some, then she laid out half of the deck (this is what I agreed to in what I was paying for). She told me I was a really good person. Which is true, I think I am too. She told me she saw moving boxes in my house; my husband was seriously emptying out our storage unit at that very moment…into our house. Mrs. Kay told me my husband loved me a lot, like more than I probably realize. I responded that wasn’t a surprise to me. She told me I was going to live a long life, but I needed to get my chakras aligned. She told me my heart chakra and crown chakras were off. She explained to me my ability to love out was full, but my ability to love myself was troublesome. She saw deep depression, and I needed to take care of myself. She was right, but again I didn’t want to let her know too much. HOW DID THIS LADY KNOW THIS? She told me my crown chakra was off and I needed to balance my spiritual connection. Mrs. Kay saw things there is NO way of her knowing. It was wild. She told me dates and colors that were lucky for me; I’m still waiting to see what those do for me. She also told me there was a spirit with me. She asked if I knew who it would be. I said one person it could be would be my father-in-law. The spirit isn’t a male, she said. The only other person, I truly felt it could be, the person I felt like had been with me the entire trip so far….”My grandmother, I said.”

After we finished up, my sister went in for her reading. Her reading was much different than mine. My sister wasn’t told her chakras were off. They weren’t. She instead was told she had a purple aura. Mrs. Kay asked my sister if she had recently had a Spiritual Awakening. She had. My sister had spent 10 days in Guatemala on a yoga trip, just a few months before, and had attended a Mayan Fire Ceremony. Nothing about past lives or anything of the sort to what I experienced. However, my sister also had been blown IMG_7069away by her experience. My sister and I finished up our evening shopping the local stores and having dinner at 13.5% Wine Bar (our mom bought us dinner since she wasn’t able to join us on our trip). We then walked back to our Airbnb, to spend the night on the property owned by our 6th great-grandfather, in the early 1800s.

The next morning, my sister and I headed to Ellicott City, MD. Ellicott City was started by our 7th great-grandfather, Andrew Ellicott, and his brothers; these three brothers built Ellicott Mills, and were responsible for getting farmers to plant wheat instead of tobacco. As we neared Ellicott City, my sister says to me, “Well, I’m just going to turn off the GPS because you probably used to live here.” I was able to navigate to the Historic Downtown, but I believe with help of street signs over past memories. As we got to Downtown, we saw signs for the Ellicott City Spring Fest. They were having a huge art festival and we had no idea. I joked how they were throwing us a welcome home celebration.

We drove around a bit to find parking, and we ended up parking in the Court House lot. We walked past an Underground Railroad site, and I wondered how many of my ancestors helped with the Underground Railroad, aside from my 6th great-grandfather, Elisha Tyson. Timing couldn’t have been more perfect because we walked up to one of the shops a minute before it opened. We IMG_7073shopped in local stores, one of which had 3 levels of knick-knacks, it was as if Christmas and the Renaissance Festival had a baby. We checked out the tents and music, for the art festival, and had lunch at the Ellicott City Brewery.

The last thing I had wanted to check out before we left Ellicott City was a house called Mount Ida. Mount Ida was initially built for William Ellicott, my 6th great-uncle; unfortunately, he died young, and the house was eventually acquired by Judge John Shoemaker Tyson, my 1st cousin 7x removed. After Judge Tyson and his wife passed away, their three daughters inherited the house. It is said the ghost of the last daughter to pass away, Ida, is still heard in the house today. We gps’d directions to Mount IMG_7078Ida, from where we were walking, and it took us some really weird way, hiking up back streets with no sidewalks. When we finally reached the house, I realized we could see our car. We had almost parked directly in front of the house, which members of our family on two different sides had once owned.

We walked the roughly 300 feet to our car, and we headed back to the Airbnb for meditation and relaxation before heading to meet up with my husband’s cousin, Nikki, that evening. We walked back to the area we had been the previous day and met Nikki at Café Hon for drinks and dinner. My sister asked if we would be interested in going to an Improv Show across the street, in which she had seen an advertisement for the previous day. We agreed. We had to walk through a busy bar, then up the stairs, to where the Improv Show was to happen. We were the ONLY people there aside from the people performing. In one skit, they asked the audience for a weird phrase, and a kid sitting next to me yelled out, “JOHN!” John is not a phrase. The entire skit, they just said John, over and over. I felt in that moment, my father-in-law, John, had come to make his spiritual presence known as I was sitting with his niece.





After the Improv Show, Nikki headed home and my sister and I stopped for a night cap at Rocket to Venus. An Irish gentleman, probably my mom’s age, approached me and asked if I was interested in cowboys. I looked down the bar to see a young man, in a cowboy hat, had just bellied up to the bar. I laughed and had to tell him, I was married, and I really didn’t think my husband would appreciate me being interested in cowboys. The man that approached me and his friend sat next to us, they were regulars of the establishment. We told them why we were in Baltimore, the historical discoveries of how we had gotten there. Then the first man tells me I have to hear his friend’s story about being contacted about his ancestors. The man was very hesitant, but finally decided to share with us ….

His family discoveries were not as uplifting. Apparently, his grandmother and some German Nazi had conspired to kill his grandfather. They succeeded. His grandmother was wanted for murder and disappeared. This gentleman’s dad was raised in an orphanage. A few months before meeting us, someone in Germany had contacted this man as he was writing a book of these events. He found out what happened to the grandma. Grandma had moved to Arizona and started a different family. Yikes!! I now IMG_7102knew why he was reluctant to share his story, especially to strangers. My new Irish friend gave me a print of his art, told me to hang it on my fridge, and it would bring me good luck. It’s still there. I’m always looking for extra good luck!! We said our good-nights and retired to our Airbnb for the evening.

Our last morning in Baltimore, we locked up and headed for one last fun breakfast before heading to the airport. I sure hit the jackpot of experiences when I chose the Paper Moon. The service and food was incredible, and the décor definitely made for a lasting impression. As we made it to the airport, my sister and I see the man who sat next to us on the flight to Baltimore. He says me, “how was lunch in Baltimore?” IMG_7094


**Update** After our trip, I have some sad news. On May 27, 2018, I was contacted by both Julie and Nikki, and Ellicott City was flooding. I couldn’t believe I had only been there the month before, and now this beautiful city was destroyed. Then in June, I was contacted by Julie, the Flour Mill which was located below the summer home of Elisha Tyson (below the Airbnb where we stayed at) was going to be destroyed for High Rises. I do not believe in coincidences. I believe you are where you are supposed to be or the forces of nature work against you. My sister and I not only had the opportunity to get lunch together, which is a rarity in itself, but we have the most amazing memories from simply agreeing to go to lunch in Baltimore. Someday, we’d like to do dinner in Germantown, PA and visit our ancestors before Elisha Tyson. Lastly, I finally made an appointment to get my chakras aligned.

“Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.”

American History: My 6th Great-Grandfather the Abolitionist

Growing up, I didn’t think much about where my maternal side had come from. We lived in North Dakota, and my mom, grandmother, and great grandfather had all grown up there. It wasn’t until making an Ancestry.com family tree and a constant unraveling of discoveries, I have not only been able to put names into my family tree, but I have been able to put stories and photos to match who these people truly were. The following story we travel back over 200 years.

  • Reynior Tyson 1658-1745
  • Matthais Tyson 1686-1727
  • Isaac Tyson 1718-1796
  • Elisha Tyson 1750-1824
  • William Tyson 1782-1863
  • William A. Tyson 1807-1897
  • Lewis Tyson 1843-1922
  • Robert Tyson 1873-1955
  • Victor Tyson 1899-1977
  • Patricia Tyson 1936-2012
  • Natalie Darling 1960-
  • Kelcie Knutson 1985-

My grandmother was very good at keeping everything. Luckily for me, she held ontoIMG_0843 family heirlooms, family documents, and lots of photos. Sometimes she would write on the backs of photos; more often, grandma would write on an envelope or index card and put the photos inside or attach it somehow. Some families have a Rolodex of recipes… some families have a Rolodex of family information. I never was able to read her writing, so rarely do I even try. Typically, when I see my grandmother’s writing, I ask my mom or aunt to translate.

Over the years, members of my family and extended family compiled documents, news articles, and stories. Folders were made with copies of everything. I received my first folder of family information in my early 20s, and for over a decade it sat in a plastic tub with old photos from High School that I moved from one apartment to another, and then sat in my img_0840-e1531768623969.jpgbasement for half of a decade. The second folder I received after my grandmother died, and joined the first folder, in the same tub. Never to be read, until this past year. But something tells me my grandmother had other plans and is somehow guiding me to look into my family history. I like to believe that my ancestors are sitting in Heaven, helping to control what I find out — a sort of mixture of Disney Pixar films Inside Out and Coco …. making sure my ancestors aren’t forgotten by using Ancestry.com to get me to bring them to life again.

Following an email I received after an Ancestry.com DNA match, I had to look further into my family. A woman named Julie, from Baltimore, contacted me on ancestry messenger to thank my mom (I manage my mom’s DNA) for taking the DNA test because the match helped her solve something in her family tree, which she’d been trying to solve for 20 years. My mom’s DNA helped her to confirm her own suspicions of her family tree. We learned Julie was born with the same maiden name as my grandmother, and she let me know how she was related to us: a great-grandfather of hers was brothers with a great-grandfather of mine, to break that down, Julie is my 7th cousin 1x removed.

In one of her emails, the following sentence came flying off the page at me. “As I am sure you know Elijah Tyson was a great Abolitionist.” I was aware Elisha Tyson was in my family tree. The end. That’s all I knew about him. IMMEDIATELY, I took to google and typed: “Elisha Tyson Abolitionist.” Pages and pages of stuff came up, including: a Wikipedia page, a book written about him, articles written about him in the 21st century. by Robert StreetApparently, my 6th great-grandfather, Elisha, was a very well-known abolitionist. He had become extremely wealthy in the milling industry, real estate, and trade. Yet, what really drew me in was the following: I found out this  great-grandfather of mine used his own home, as part of the underground railroad to hide free African-American slaves who were being held illegally, AND he used his own money to help free them. I read he was highly regarded by African-American slaves, they referred to him as Father Tyson, and at his funeral over 10,000 slaves marched to show their respect. 10,000 people marched at his funeral….. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Why hadn’t I ever heard of this man?

Google also displayed a house. A summer home for Elisha, built somewhere between 1790s and 1804, which a family had purchased in 2005, and spent half a million dollars restoring. THEN, I found the most miraculous thing,  an AIRBNB was attached to the restored house, where the servants once lived, and had once been owned by my 6th great-grandfather. I knew I needed to go to Baltimore.

The morning after I learned of the Airbnb, my older sister called me as she often does on her way to work. She asked me if I wanted to make plans to go to lunch. I said, “I want to go to Baltimore.” She responded, “They probably have lunch there.” So I proceeded to fill her in on what I had learned about Elisha Tyson and the Airbnb. She told me she had two weekends in the coming months available, and to check into the Airbnb. I messaged Robyn, the owner, immediately. Robyn was very quick to respond, and one of the weekends my sister was available was open. I chatted with my sister, and by that evening I was booking the Airbnb and she was booking us an experience on Spirit Airlines. I realized I had roughly one month to learn whatever I could about my ancestors before we jetted off to Baltimore.

I decided it was time to start going through the family stuff I had. I dug out old documents. I ordered the book Life of Elisha Tyson, the Philanthrpist by John Shoemaker Tyson. In addition, I was fortunate to receive an email with a bookreport the daughter of the AirBnb happened to have recently written. I also made sure to tell Julie we were coming, with hopes of meeting her. I mentioned we were staying at the Airbnb. She proceeded to ask me which property it was at. This is when I learned there were TWO homes of my 6th great-grandfather’s still standing. The second home of my 6th great-grandfather’s was located at Jericho Farm, in Kingsville, MD.

In a few weeks time, my Ancestry.com family tree grew very quickly. I asked Julie questions regarding what she may know about people from the Baltimore area. I specifically wanted to know anything about my 5th great grandmother’s family, the Ellicott’s (Elizabeth Ellicott was married to Elisha Tyson’s son, William). Julie let me know there was a whole city called Ellicott City, MD; I eventually learned the city was started by my 7th great-grandfather and his two brothers. In addition, I learned my 7th great-grandfather’s nephew (a first cousin to my 6th great-grandfather, my 2nd cousin 7x removed) surveyed the Mason-Dixon line, was commissioned by George Washington to draw plans for Washington D.C., and taught Meriwether Lewis survey methods. I was suddenly living out American History books in my very own family.

Since my sister and I were only going to be in the Baltimore area for less than 72 hours, I made a short list of must sees:

  1. Main house/Airbnb
  2. Maryland Historical Society
  3. Jericho Farm/Jerusalem Mill
  4. Ellicott City
  5. Lunch with Julie

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey























Funny Reunion Mishaps: “I Hope I Get an Invite to the Next Reunion.”

Two months ago, my dad forwarded me an email about a family reunion on my paternal grandmother’s side. My dad learned of the reunion after he had been in touch with a distant cousin, who lives in Washington, after matching on Ancestry.com. My paternal grandma died when I was 8, and I really didn’t know much of her side, aside from her one sister and a few of her sister’s kids and grandkids. So when my dad told me he wanted to go to the reunion, which was an hour away from my house, I decided it was a must. The flier listed four names with the color to wear to represent which family you descended from:





My dad told me we were yellow. He said Bernard was my grandmother’s grandfather. So the Friday before the reunion, I went shopping for yellow clothes for my family. Saturday morning, we all dressed in our yellow, and trekked down Interstate 94 for Clearwater, MN. We met my dad, my step-mom, paternal uncle and aunt, at the reunion; they drove in from North Dakota. When we showed up, I was quick to notice how most people were wearing white, to represent Mathias. Within 5 minutes of being at the reunion, a woman approached me and asked if I would be interested in planning the next reunion. Mind you, I had no idea aside, from my close family members, who any of these people were. The reunion was a potluck with so much food. People had brought in old photos, that decorated a table. Stacks of binders with family information lined another table, which were made by my great-grandfather’s first cousin. My great-grandfather’s first cousin was still alive, and he was at the reunion. Apparently, his dad didn’t have him until his dad was 60.


They, also, had sign-up sheets to place your contact info. You were to put your name under the family member you descended from. My dad went to put his name on the contact sheet, while I took my kids to the park outside of the pavilion we were in. About 10 minutes later, my dad comes outside and tells me, “we are in the wrong color; we were supposed to wear white.” I responded, “What do you mean we are in the wrong color?” Apparently, my dad got the generation of the reunion wrong. Although, my dad did have a great-grandfather named Bernard, we were at a family reunion for my dad’s great-great grandfather, Mathias. I just laughed and laughed. I don’t think my dad thought this was as funny as I did because he immediately wanted to know if he had a white shirt in the car. I told him he had to wear yellow like the rest of us. We stayed at the reunion for a few more hours and parted our ways in the mid-afternoon.

Later in the evening, I decided I needed to share with my sisters and my paternal cousins the funny mix up with the color yellow. I was visiting my best friend, so I wasn’t paying too close of attention to my phone This was the following conversation:


Me: “Funny story. So I go to this family reunion on the Ritter side. My dad told me that we needed to wear yellow for Grandma Agnes’ dad’s side. Went to the reunion….we were suppose to wear white. Apparently it was a reunion for offspring of our great-great grandfather and my dad go the color wrong and the person we were representing wrong. Omg. But we did meet a 1st cousin of grandma Agnes. Miss you all. XOXO”

I received a response,

“Oh my. Look like a bunch of minions! Hilarious.”

Without looking who sent the text, I thought based on the text itself, my little sister had written it.

My cousin responded, “Hahha damn had no idea anyone was going but parents”


Then, I looked closer at my phone when I got the following text:

“You know, I’m pretty sure I’m in this group chat by accident, but I’m happy to be apart of the family”

This is when I realized I had not entered my little sister’s phone number, which I know by heart, into the text.

Me: “Hahahahah. Omg. Totally typed my sisters number wrong and you answered. Even better.”

Me: “But to everyone else… no one knew about the reunion. It was a last minute thing and ancestry match to my dad.”


“You guys look wonderful. Minus the guy in a boot. What happened man?”

Me: “Poor guy broke his foot. He didn’t know he broke his foot after a surgery that made his foot go dead. Thank you for entertaining me tonight. So funny.”

“Hey just for the laughs. Hope the foot gets better. And nice yellow shirts. I hope I get an invite to the next reunion.”

There was a series of a few more texts, then this afternoon I get a text, “Im Easton by the way, never introduced myself.”



Cousin Teddy: Family Stories and Historical Discoveries

I have always enjoyed stories. I especially loved listening to my maternal grandma tell me stories. My grandmother’s used book store was across the bridge from my elementary school; often, I would walk across a wooden bridge, that stretched over the river and railroad tracks, to the small downtown. As I would walk into my grandma’s store, I would always start by yelling, “grandma, grandma!” because you never knew where you were going to find her. The books were stacked from the floor to ceiling: some on shelves, some on counters, some on the floor. I always questioned how they didn’t fall down on anyone. However, my grandma knew where every single book was in that place. She would always know what type of books her regulars were reading, and she’d even set books she thought they would like, in piles for them. My grandma, her name was Pat, had a children’s play area with vintage play mobile toys, a penny gumball machine, and would always let me play store with her vintage cash register  she used to ring up her customers. Many days, she would send me with a few quarters to go to the Coin Shop to buy a soda.

My maternal cousin and I with our Grandma Pat in front of the Paperback Book Exchange, circa 1989.

Some days, my grandma and I would sit and she would tell me stories. She would sit on her chair, and I typically would sit on the stool used for climbing to the top of the book mountain, wedged between stacks of books. One of my favorite stories is when she told me how she grossed her mom out, as a small child. Her mother, named Amy, had called her name, while she was playing outside, and when Pat turned around she had grasshopper legs hanging out of her mouth. She told me her mom was horrified. This story is still funny to me. My grandma also told me about Quakers and some castle in England. I didn’t really know what a Quaker was, aside from the Oatmeal, and the castle she showed me an old photo of didn’t spark much interest to small me. I guess I didn’t really understand.

Family Castle Grandma showed me when I was little.

So when 32 year old me got a text from my mom, “did you know we were related to some people called something like the 13 or Original 13?” I immediately turned to my wonderful friend google and went to town. Google came through as always, and the names of the founders of Germantown, Pennsylvania came up. One of those names was Reinert Tisen, also known as Reynier Tyson (can also be spelled: Ryner/Reiner/Theissen/Theisen). Tyson was my grandmother’s maiden name. I was very new into my Ancestry.com tree, so that night, I spent countless hours figuring out how we were related to this man. I learned, Reynier Tyson was a Quaker from Krefeld, Germany. He was one of 33 passengers who sailed on the Concord, recruited by William Penn and met in Pennsylvania by Francis Daniel Pastorius.

reynier tyson 2
Photo I discovered on Ancestry.com; a statue of the founders of Germantown, PA.
reynier tyson
Names listed on statue: note Reinert Tisen.

I discovered Reynior Tyson was my 9th Great-Grandfather. I was on an emotional high; my love for History was becoming bigger with the discovery in my very own family. I, also, discovered that Germantown, PA and the Quakers were very against slavery and in 1688 the Germantown Quaker Petition Against African-American Slavery was formed. During this time, Reynier Tyson was a Burgess of Germantown, meaning he was able to make laws. Not only did I learn that Reynier Tyson was my Great-Grandfather (x9), but he is also President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great-Grandfather (x4). Meaning Teddy Roosevelt would be my 5th cousin, 5 times removed. I suddenly felt like an ancestry.com poster child. Cousin Teddy!!!!

My paternal cousin, myself, and my older sister at Mount Rushmore in 1994. Little did my sister and I know we were sitting in front of our cousin Teddy.

“Family is the last and greatest discovery. It is our last miracle.” -James Mcbride